STORY BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
PHOTOS BY MADISON SHAPLAND
The Fort Hays men’s basketball team put on an offensive show in their home opener of the 2022-23 season, defeating the Bethel College Threshers 90-59.
After scoring just 15 points in the first ten minutes of the game, the Tigers (2-1) got the ball rolling on offense and made stops defensively en route to a 43-20 lead at halftime. The offense was even better for FHSU after the break, scoring 47 points on 53.6 percent shooting.
“It was nice to see some guys start making some shots,” said Head Coach Mark Johnson. “Last weekend, we struggled shooting the ball, but Jaheim Holden really got us going. He had 15 points [in the first half], and then Elijah [Nnanabu] made a couple shots on top of that. I thought the last ten minutes of the first half we were really, really good.”
Of FHSU’s 90 points, 48 came from their bench – including 21 from Holden – who led all scorers. Behind him were Nnanabu with 19 points and Kaleb Hammeke with 13. Nnanabu led the team in rebounds with seven.
This is Holden’s first year in the program, who is a transfer student from Tarleton State University.
“It’s been a major adjustment,” Holden said. “But playing with guys like Kaleb, Elijah, all those guys, they push me every day to be better. We compete every day in practice, so when we get out here and compete together, it’s really easy.”
As a team, the Tigers shot 51.7 percent overall, 52.9 percent from three-point range and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line. They also grabbed 37 rebounds and scored 24 points off of 18 Thresher turnovers. Bethel fared worse in each scoring category, shooting 35.3 percent overall, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Johnson was pleased with his team’s performance, commenting on the balanced scoring he saw in the game.
“We’re going to have to do it more by committee,” he said. “Last year, our fourth-leading scorer only averaged four points a game. We feel like this year, it’s not going to be one guy getting 18 points, like Jared [Vitztum] did a year ago. We’re hoping five or six guys can contribute on a nightly basis, and that five or six might be different guys every night.”
The Tigers will play their next five games at home in Gross Memorial Coliseum. The next one up is a contest with Metropolitan State University of Denver on Sunday, beginning at 2:00 p.m.